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Nurse staffing guidelines at issue in St. Charles Hospital contract dispute

Press Release Press Release, 7/8/11

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For Immediate Release
July 8, 2011

RNs to hold public protest on July 13

Registered nurses at St. Charles Hospital want management to demonstrate that it’s committed to safe staffing.
 
The RNs are asking hospital officials to strengthen the current RN-to-patient staffing guidelines in their next contract. Staffing guidelines detail how many RNs will be on duty on each unit for each shift. Studies have shown that hospitals with higher RN-to-patient ratios have better patient outcomes.
 
The 325 RNs, represented by the New York State Nurses Association, are currently negotiating a new contract with management. Their most recent, three-year contract expired on March 31.
 
Staffing guidelines in a contract provide the nurses with a means of legal recourse should the hospital fail to meet the guidelines. Despite the positive impact on patient care, St. Charles management hasn’t supported the nurses’ call to strengthen these guidelines.
 
To raise the visibility of this important issue, the nurses will conduct an informational picket from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13 in front of the hospital at 200 Belle Terre Road. Nurses will be available to discuss the issues during the picket. Local elected public officials have been invited to attend.
 
“Strong staffing guidelines are an important factor in establishing a workplace environment that encourages RN recruitment and retention,” said Mike Healy, RN president of the local bargaining unit. “Why won’t St. Charles show a commitment to be accountable to the community, as well as to its nursing staff, as a hospital of excellence?”
 
Other recruitment and retention issues the RNs are concerned about include wages that keep pace with inflation and affordable health insurance.
 
The New York State Nurses Association is the voice for nursing in the Empire State. With more than 37,000 members, it is New York’s largest professional association and union for registered nurses. The association represents registered nurses, and some all-professional bargaining units, in New York and New Jersey. It supports nurses and nursing practice through education, research, legislative advocacy, and collective bargaining.

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